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Going Equipped (1990)

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A young man in prison is interviewed and talks about his life, how he got into prison, and what it's like doing time.


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Credited cast:
Derek Robinson ...
Himself - Interviewer


Portrait of a petty criminal. A young man sits at a nearly empty table in a barren room telling his life story and what brought him first to a life of serious crime and now to a more moderate life. As he talks - about his childhood as one of six children, about being a thief, and about being in prison - there are flashbacks to those rooms where he has lived his life. Now he gets by without doing "crime crime," but by doing things that are not 100 percent legit. Written by <>

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29 November 1990 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


Commissioned by Channel 4 as part of a five-part series of Aardman animations called "Lip Synch". The five films in the series were Creature Comforts (1989), Going Equipped (1990), Ident (1990), Next (1990) and War Story (1989). See more »

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User Reviews

A short, sharp shock
11 June 2004 | by (East Anglia, UK) – See all my reviews

Looking through all the average ratings so many of the Aardman shorts seem to have received round here, I've noticed a strange pattern – the ones who've wound up with the pretty lousy scores, strangely enough, seem to be the more downbeat ventures the company has conceived, notably 'Babylon' and 'Going Equipped'. And while I do appreciate Aardman's neat, subtle sense of humour, 'Going Equipped' is vivid proof that they have more than one string to their bow – one of two animated monologues directed by Peter Lord for the Channel 4 series 'Lip Synch', this is definitely his most powerful and underrated working.

'Going Equipped' is a particularly effective slap round the face when you consider that this sort of animation, in fact all animation in general, is invariably used for its comedy value alone. There is nothing to laugh at here, yet it remains so engrossing – a sad, unsettling and striking social commentary in which a young man describes his life of crime, reflecting on his early days as a young child shoplifting small toys, to his more recent experiences in prison. This should be a real wake-up call to anyone who thinks that prisoners have it too easy on the inside – the character here brings up issues about living in a confined space that I would never even have thought about.

The stop-motion animation is brilliant, quite possibly the most realistic ever done - the central character moves with all the physical quirks and mannerisms of a real person, one of the things which I suppose makes him so sympathetic. This is blended in with some bleak live-action footage depicting integral places in his life, including his garden and the shops he used to steal from. One particularly harrowing shot shows an upturned woodlouse struggling desperately to get back on its legs, played alongside the interviewee's account of always being treated as second-best to his siblings. Another shows a whole group of woodlice trapped inside a small jar, adding to the insecure, claustrophobic feel of this shot. The central character is also great - his voice is so vivid with mixed feelings of anger, regret and determination, it's impossible not to feel for him and his situation.

Overall, 'Going Equipped' is an outstanding claymation short that really sticks in your mind long after you've seen it. Downbeat as it is, it's the drabness here that really builds the power, and, above all, still manages to leave its viewers with a slight sense of optimism too. One of Aardman's best, and one they deserve a lot more recognition for.

Grade: A

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